EuropeAid’s evaluation and results-oriented monitoring systems do not provide adequate information

EuropeAid’s evaluation and results-oriented monitoring systems do not provide adequate information on EU development expenditure results, says the European Court of Auditors.

Two of the key elements of the accountability framework operated by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation (EuropeAid) are its evaluation and results-oriented monitoring (ROM) systems. In its special report published today, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) is critical of the reliability of these systems.

Karel Pinxten, the ECA Member responsible for this report, said: “The demand for accountability for EU expenditure in all fields has never been higher. It is not good enough to report achievements in vague global terms. The Commission needs to have the building blocks necessary for a comprehensive reporting system which provides meaningful information for its own management and for its external stakeholders. One of these components is a strong evaluation system which feeds into an overall reporting process. At the present time, EuropeAid’s system is inadequate.” ”The evaluations of projects and programmes which are organised by Commission delegations and carried out in partner countries are unsatisfactorily managed: overall supervision is inadequate, the amount of resources used is unclear and access to the results of these evaluations is lacking,” according to Mr Pinxten.

Most programme evaluations are carried out before the impacts and sustainability of measures can be ascertained. There is, generally, no requirement for ex-post evaluations and, as a result, these are rarely carried out. Indeed, whereas ROM contractors previously carried out ex-post exercises in a certain percentage of cases, this practice has recently been discontinued. There is therefore a serious lack of third-party assessment of impacts and sustainability. The auditors found thematic and country evaluations (strategic evaluations) to be better managed and more results-focused than programme evaluations. However, the absence of well-defined objectives and indicators frequently hampers the work of the evaluators and limits the usefulness of their work. In addition, the planned strategic evaluation programme for the 2007-2013 period was not executed in full.

The systems in place do not ensure that maximum use is made of the findings of the evaluations. Weaknesses were found in the follow-up not only of programme evaluations but also of strategic evaluations and ROM findings.

The detailed recommendations in the report are intended to pave the way for the necessary improvements. Given the considerable sums involved, with annual development expenditure in the region of 8 billion euro, it is imperative that robust evaluation systems are implemented without delay.

The full report is on Special Report n° 18/2014: EuropeAid’s evaluation and results‑oriented monitoring systems